A scientific paper led by two researchers at Harvard University made a splash, claiming that a cigar-shaped rock sprayed through the solar system this week might have been sent by aliens.
The researchers noted that in a preliminary edition of the article it was "an exotic scenario", but that "Oumuamua could be a fully operational investigation sent deliberately around the Earth by an alien civilization".
Oumuamua, the first interstellar object known to enter our solar system, accelerated faster than the Sun faster than expected, so it can help push a kind of artificial sail – also known as a light sail – from space.
"We can now show that an unexplained phenomenon, that is, the extreme acceleration of Oumuamua, can be explained by the power of radiation pressure from the sun," the author and Harvard astrophysicist Shmuel Bialy told AFP via e-mail on Tuesday.
"But this requires that the body has a very large surface and must be very thin and not found in nature."
The proposition of a foreign force at work was viral.
But other astronomers don't buy it.
Lı Like most scientists, I'd love to convince the evidence of alien life, but that's not the case, eyi said Alan Fitzsimmons, an astrophysical at the University of Queens.
"The observed properties were already shown to be consistent with a comet-like body extracted from another star system," he told AFP.
"And some arguments in this study are based on numbers with large uncertainties."
Impossible to predict & # 39;
Katie Mack, a well-known astrophysicist in the State of North Carolina, was also troubled by the alien hype.
Dı What you need to understand: Scientists are happy to publish a strange idea, even if they have the slightest chance of being wrong, la he wrote in Twitter.
"But every other possibility is exhausted dozens of times, even the authors probably don't believe it."
Bialy asked what he believed in the hypothesis:
"I am convinced that it is sent by aliens because I am not a humanist, but a scientist, I rely on the evidence to reveal the possible physical explanations for the observed phenomena."
Avi Loeb, the other writer-writer who was the head of Harvard's astronomy department, told NBC News that humanity couldn't have learned more about the mysterious object because it went far and away.
"It is impossible to predict the goal behind Oumuamua without more data."
Her papers were accepted for publication in Astrophysical Magazine Letters and will appear on November 12.
Oukiamua, "messenger" or "tracker" for Hawaiian, first viewed in October 2017 with telescopes.
The alien rock is about 1,300 meters long (400 meters) long and only about 130 meters wide.